As part of Black History Month, the Zinn Education Project has released a new report on how the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era is taught in American history classes in the United States. It is part of the ZEP campaign to encourage and support history and social studies teachers who “Teach the Truth” about racism in United States history and its defense of Critical Race Theory as an academic discipline. The National Park Service describes the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era, roughly 1865 to 1877, as “one of the most complicated, poorly understood, and significant periods in American history.”
According to the Zinn Education Project, for centuries “white historians” have “crudely distorted the Negro's role in the Reconstruction years.” It argues this was a “conscious and deliberate manipulation of history” to justify racism. As a result, “One generation after another of Americans were assiduously taught these falsehoods and the collective mind of America became poisoned with racism and stunted with myths.”
On its website, the Zinn Education Project, is offering teachers material based on the pioneering work of 19th and 20th century historian W.E.B. DuBois, the first African American to receive a PhD from Harvard University. In his book Black Reconstruction (1935), Du Bois demonstrated the achievements made by Blacks in the South during the Reconstruction period before they were robbed of the right to vote by Jim Crow laws. These included the first free public education in Southern states. The book, edited by Eric Foner and Henry Louis Gates Jr., was recently reissued by the Library of America.
DuBois was a political activist as well as a historian. He was a founder of the NAACP and editor of its magazine, The Crisis. After he was invited to write an article on the history of the “American Negro” for the 14th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, the editor eliminated DuBois’ references to Reconstruction. DuBois insisted on including a statement that “White historians have ascribed the faults and failures of Reconstruction to Negro ignorance and corruption. But the Negro insists that it was Negro loyalty and the Negro vote alone that restored the South to the Union; established the new democracy, both for white and black, and instituted public schools.” When the editor refused to include the statement, DuBois would not allow the Encyclopedia to print his work.
In a February 1968 speech at New York’s Carnegie Hall, Martin Luther King, Jr. praised Du Bois as a teacher and “intellectual giant” whose “study of the Reconstruction was a monumental achievement.” King explained that one idea Du Bois “insistently taught was that Black people have been kept in oppression and deprivation by a poisonous fog of lies that depicted them as inferior, born deficient and deservedly doomed to servitude to the grave. So assiduously has this poison been injected into the mind of America that its disease has infected not only whites but many Negroes. So long as the lie was believed the brutality and criminality of conduct toward the Negro was easy for the conscience to bear. The twisted logic ran — if the Black man was inferior he was not oppressed — his place in society was appropriate to his meager talent and intellect.”
The Zinn Education Project’s curriculum package includes “Reconstructing the South: A Role Play” developed by Bill Bigelow; “When the Impossible Suddenly Became Possible: A Reconstruction Mixer” by Adam Sanchez and Nqobile Mthethwa; and “40 Acres and a Mule: Role-Playing What Reconstruction Could Have Been” by Adam Sanchez.
The Zinn Education Project study examines the way the Reconstruction Era is treated in state social studies standards. The report’s key finds are that most State Social Studies standards:
Do not provide clear and consistent definitions of Reconstruction, limit the significance of Reconstruction to Southern states, and do not provide sufficient time to cover Reconstruction.
Emphasize a top-down history of Reconstruction focused on government, politics, and policy with little emphasis on ordinary Black people and their organizing strategies.
Promote an inaccurate history of Reconstruction that minimizes Black contributions and condemns supporters of Reconstruction as “carpetbaggers,” Northerners he came South to take advantage of the defeated states and “scalawags,” essentially white Southerners considered traitors.
Rarely name or contend with white supremacy or white terror and do not address the enduring legacies of Reconstruction or make connections to the present day.
The website includes a petition to school boards:
“In this pivotal moment for the United States, we the undersigned call on education leaders to ensure students have the knowledge to be active participants in a multiracial democracy. To honor our history and the urgency of the present moment, we urge you to adopt resolutions committing to teaching the grassroots history of Reconstruction.
It has never been more important for adults and students alike to participate in learning the lessons of the Reconstruction era so that we can apply them to the challenges we face today.
Accordingly, we urge you to examine how much time is currently dedicated to teaching the Reconstruction Era in kindergarten through 12th grade, make a plan to increase it, and ensure that teaching materials and curricula in schools reflect the everyday people who powered these movements.”
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Media Watch, February 7, 2022 with Robert Anthony, Eric V. Tait, Jr. and guest Dr. Alan Singer
a) RACE IN THE USA: among other things,
1) Black HS students targeted/stalked/car deliberately damaged in DeLand, FL;
2) Black basketball player in Laguna Hills, CA HS game verbally assaulted with racist taunts;
3) Recurring bomb threats at numerous HBCU’s;
4) NFL Coach Brian Flores sues NFL over “alleged?” racial discrimination,
5) Whoopi and the Holocaust: “Wrong, but also Wronged?”
b) THE SCOTUS Racist History, Biden’s upcoming Justice selection, and the GOP and Right Wing/Faux News freak-out about a possible Black Female on the High Court.
c) The 6 January 6, 2021 Coup Congressional Probe gets closer to the Orange Julius’ actual involvement in the Coup attempt as it widens it’s net into the Fake Electoral Slates/other former Exec Branch personnel. Noose slowly tightening so Orange Julius now railing vs. “racist” Prosecutors in Atlanta and elsewhere.
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